seems that there are new reports practically every day of dangerous, highly
infectious diseases breaking out. And amid these outbreaks, hospitals face a
potential crisis when it comes to the amount of antibiotics available to treat
patients. As Dr. Rima Abdel-Massih, a physician at the University of Pittsburgh
Medical Center (UPMC) and the chief medical officer of UPMC’s new
telehealth-centric Infectious Disease (ID) Connect, said in a press release: “With
the growing threat of drug-resistant organisms and costly government penalties
for health care-associated infections, it has never been more critical for
hospitals to properly diagnose, treat and prevent such infections.” However,
hospitals are at a bit of a disadvantage in their ability to care for patients
with infections because infectious diseases specialists are not easy to come
by, especially for hospitals in rural communities. Here enters telehealth.
Virtual care platforms, including ID Connect, help connect hospitals to
infectious disease specialists.
ability of telehealth to connect smaller hospitals to the resources they need
is a lifesaver. Without a way to bridge that gap, smaller rural hospitals lose
their patients because they have to be transferred to a larger hospital with
the necessary resources. This story is all too familiar to some health care
systems, like Wisconsin’s Ascension St. Michael’s health system, as mHealth
Intelligence highlights. They had one infectious disease specialist to
serve their entire system, which definitely had them stretched. Often patients
had to be transferred to larger hospitals because the one specialist just could
not meet all the needs.
when Ascension St. Michael’s lost their specialist, they were put in an even
greater bind. Telehealth was their answer. “With the telehealth platform, Ascension
St. Michael’s is connecting patients and doctors to infectious disease
specialists 20 to 50 times a month, with another 15 to 40 online care sessions
scheduled for follow-up visits,” mHealth Intelligence notes. The
greatest victory here, though, is that because of telehealth, Ascension St.
Michael’s is able to retain all of their patients. Telehealth allows patients
to remain at their community hospital and be connected to the specialists
Telehealth is not only helping hospitals retain patients, it is also helping hospitals manage their medication protocols more efficiently. Because patients do not need to be transferred, costs are reduced, as well as the average length patients stay in the facility. “[T]he telemedicine platform gives health care providers large and small an opportunity to collaborate, enabling the larger systems to share their expertise and reduce crowding at their facilities and allowing the smaller hospitals to improve their care and keep their beds occupied and their staff busy serving the community,” mHealth Intelligence explains. So far, it seems that this new initiative has been a win-win for everyone.